By David Crane
defrev at gmail dot com
Photo(s) Credit: Doug Richardson, Special Weapons for Military & Police (SWMP)
May 8, 2009
If you’d like a more traditional platform for the 5.45x39mm Russian cartridge, than the Smith & Wesson (S&W) M&P15R semi-auto AR-15 tactical carbine, the April 2009 issue of Special Weapons for Military & Police (SWMP) (Gun Buyer’s Annual #74) also has an article by Charlie Cutshaw on a Interarms Polish wz. 88 Tantal AK-74S semi-auto Kalashnikov AK-74-type 5.45mm tactical rifle/carbine that’s been upgraded with some distinctly American tactical rifle/carbine accessories to create an bring it “into the 21st century” and create an Americanized AK-74, if you will.
This kind of project is, of course, right up Cutshaw’s alley, since like most, if not all, small arms aficionados and cognoscenti, he’s a big fan of the Kalashnikov family of rifles, and yet he also enjoys the latest and greatest tactical AR-15 accessories. So, this little project gave him the best of all worlds. Anyway, Cutshaw basically improved the hell out of the wz.88 Tantal AK-74S 5.45x39mm carbine/rifle by adding a Surefire M83 AK MIL-STD-1913 “Picatinny” quad rail system/forend rail tube, a dark earth TAPCO AK T6 M4/M4A1-type collapsible/telescoping stock (buttstock), and a dark earth TAPCO AK SAW-type pistol grip. The article says “Surefire M84” rail system, but we think that’s a typo.
Cutshaw actually prefers the AK series weapons to the AR series weapons (AR-15 series weapons) due to the AK’s reliability and maintainability advantages over the AR under adverse conditions and high round count, particularly in situations where cleaning and maintenance are minimal.
The Polish wz.88 Tantal AK-74S rifle/carbine actually has some unique features vs. Russian and Bulgarian AKs. According to both the High Standard Manufacturing and Atlantic Firearms websites, they are:
1) The gas tube is floated between the gas block and the rear sight support. It does not touch the handguard. The handguard is supported by an extended lower handguard flange and the rear sight support.
2) The muzzle brake has been modified to also function as a grenade launcher.
3) The Tantal comes with a side-folding stock that mounts just like a fixed buttstock. It does not require a different rear trunnion, but mounts on a standard trunnion in the normal fashion. It can be quickly and easily interchanged with a fixed stock. Most military sidefolding stocks are build on dedicated receivers, and cannot be converted to fixed stocks.
4) The gas block has been modified to accept a bipod. Standard NATO bipods will fit this version.
The Tantal’s factory old-school-style side-folding wire stock is apparently pretty lousy, so an M4/M4A1-type collapsible/telescoping stock is a wise replacement for American shooters, particularly those that wish to emplay/deploy the AK-74S while wearing tactical body armor.
But Cutshaw didn’t stop with just the furniture. He mounted some high-tech acccessories, including an EOTech 550-series Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) / Holographic Diffraction Sight (HDS), a Laser Devices DBAL-A2 / MFAL (Dual Beam Laser-Advanced 2 / Multi-Functioning Aiming Laser System) infrared (IR) laser aimer/illuminator, and a Laser Devices Operator OP-6 6-volt LED tactical light. The OP-6 was mounted to a Flashlight Grip Adaptor made by Command Arms Accessories (CAA).
Oh, but Cutshaw didn’t stop there. I mean, combat optics (optical sights), tactical aiming lasers a.k.a. targeting lasers, and tactical lights are all well and good, but what if you have to fight at night? Whatcha’ gonna’ do then. Why, you’re gonna’ get yourself a night vision weapons sight like the Optical Systems Technology (OSTI) AN/PVS-22 Universal Night Sight (UNS) or the Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) Universal Night Sight Short Range (UNS SR).
Normally, if given a choice, DefenseReview prefers a good thermal/IR (infrared) combat sight light the Insight Technology / Insight Tech-Gear Clip-On Thermal Sight (CNVD-T) or the KAC UNS Thermal Micro (UNS-T), since they provide the operator to see and target the enemy in all weather conditions AND during nighttime operations. With a good IR/thermal weapons sight, if it (the target) generates heat, you can see it.
Defense Review doesn’t know how many rounds Cutshaw ran through the Tantal wz.88 AK-74S, because he didn’t say, but we do know that he achieved a 1.75″ group at 50 yards using Wolf ammo, which chrono’d between 2637 fps (feet per second) and 2751 fps, with an average muzzle velocity of 2683 fps.
Since the Tantal is a Polish weapon, Defense Review hopes that the bullets come out the front.
Sorry. Had to do it.
Company Contact Info:
Century International Arms, Inc.
430 South Congress Ave. Suite 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Toll Free 800.527.1252
Website 1: http://www.centuryarms.com/
Website 2: http://www.centuryarms.biz
Crusader Gun Company, Inc.
High Standard Manufacturing Company
5200 Mitchelldale, Suite E-17
Houston, Texas 77092
toll free 1-800-272-7816
Tantal AK-74S 5.45mm (Special Weapons for Military & Police)